By Mary-Jo McLaughlin
“God is the one who makes our to-do list when we live by the grace of ‘yes,’” author, blogger and international speaker Lisa Hendey said during her keynote speech at the ninth annual Norwich Diocesan Women’s Conference at Mercy High School in Middletown. “God has a unique purpose for each of us and for the world. Our ‘yes’ to God is needed in today’s world and it has dignity and worth.”
Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the author of several books, including The Grace of Yes; The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion; The Handbook for Catholic Moms; and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. She also has written The Chime Travelers fiction series based on the life of the saints for elementary school readers. Through stories of her own faith journey interwoven with tales of various friends, saints and biblical figures who have inspired her. Hendey wove a thread of the various ways that each person is called to say yes to God.
This includes saying yes to putting our faith first, evangelizing, transforming the world, humility, forgiveness and doing each even when it is difficult to do so. Hendey shared a moving story of a challenging ‘yes’ that she made recently. After the conference, she would head to Missouri to support her father in the ongoing care of her mother, who has Parkinson’s disease.
“This is one of my ‘yesses’ for the foreseeable future,” she said. Before arriving for this year’s conference, Hendey looked up the names of the patron saints of the Diocese only to discover they were Ann and Patrick, which are names of her parents. She saw that as God’s affirmation and blessing of her ‘yes’ to be with her parents at this time in their lives despite the impact it will have on her being separated from her husband and family for an unknown period.
She challenged participants to look at their own lives and the intimate ways God also invites them to say yes to the call to be a “Light in a Darkened World,” which was the theme of this year’s conference. Hendey told the women, “You say yes today to being a light in the world … If we take that light and love and go out to the circles of our life, we can make a difference.”
Saying yes to God’s invitations to each of us can only be done when we are sustained by prayer, Hendey emphasized. “We must prioritize prayer in our lives,” she said, by quieting ourselves daily to listen to how the Lord speaks to us in our unique and individual lives. To say yes to God’s will in our lives requires that we also find the grace to say no to some requests, particularly when we need to slow down and find balance in our lives.
Discerning when to say yes or no, Hendey said, necessitates bringing three questions to prayer: How does this affect my other commitments? How does it impact my primary vocation? How will this impact my soul? Saying no also means letting go of self-doubts, the need to want to do everything on our own and the negative chatter we hear in our heads. “Self-hatred and a refusal to even begin to ask for help are from that evil one, the one who wants our ‘yes’ to be fragile or nonexistent,” she said. “In order to fully live out the grace of ‘yes’ in our lives, we must eliminate sources of defeat and weakness, and things that render us powerless.”